Dalton resident is hosting a Halloween cookout in his front yard. On the menu: a Chevrolet S-10 pickup truck – Berkshire Eagle

Dalton resident is hosting a Halloween cookout in his front yard. On the menu: a Chevrolet S-10 pickup truck – Berkshire Eagle

A 1999 Chevrolet pickup truck known as “Yard Truck” spins on a spit in the front yard of engineer Bill Knowles’ house in Dalton. Surrounding the truck is Knowles’ aptly named “skeleton crew.” 
Bill Knowles stands in front of his “Yard Truck” Halloween display, a Chevrolet pickup truck that rotates on a spit in the front yard of his Dalton home. The device is powered only by a snowblower engine and a decorative plastic skeleton named “Crankenstein.”
A skeleton named “Frack” sits at the wheel of Bill Knowles’ Halloween “Yard Truck” display in the front yard of his Dalton home.

News Reporter
A 1999 Chevrolet pickup truck known as “Yard Truck” spins on a spit in the front yard of engineer Bill Knowles’ house in Dalton. Surrounding the truck is Knowles’ aptly named “skeleton crew.” 
DALTON — If you ask nicely, Bill Knowles might let you take the pickup truck in his front yard for a spin.
The truck in question, a rusty Chevrolet S-10 pickup, might not get you very far. It’s spit-roasted on a rotisserie in the lawn, surrounded by skeletons for a spooky — and toasty — Halloween display. The truck spins on a frame, pedaled by a 10-speed bicycle sprocket and powered by a snowblower’s engine. A “fire” pit with a smoke machine and “embering” lights glimmers faintly below.
“You just don’t see a truck on a rotisserie,” Knowles said. “When I dream this stuff up, I think of things I’ve never seen before.”
The display, at 1113 South St. in Dalton, has passersby slowing down and doing a double-take. Some will stop in the driveway and ask to take photos and videos; Knowles can usually be found sitting outside waiting to greet them.
To the average motorist, it’s hard to miss.
“You can actually hear people slowing down,” Knowles said. “People drive by and they say ‘Oh jeez, there’s a truck on its side in that yard’ and then they drive by later and say ‘Oh, there’s a truck upside down in that yard.’”
Why does he do it? He’s an entertainer, and he loves to see people smile.
Bill Knowles stands in front of his “Yard Truck” Halloween display, a Chevrolet pickup truck that rotates on a spit in the front yard of his Dalton home. The device is powered only by a snowblower engine and a decorative plastic skeleton named “Crankenstein.”
“A smile can change a life,” Knowles said. “I do what I can to create them.”
A Dalton resident since 2013 and longtime Pittsfield native, Knowles is also known as “Wild Bill” for his exuberant displays and daredevil antics. He earned the name in the 1970s performing dirt bike tricks, he said, but it stuck as he found new ways to continue his adventure through life.
This is the third year in his display featuring “Yard Truck,” the truck that he used for house work before its engine quit working. The first display in 2020 saw a “pit crew” of skeletons stealing the engine out of its hood. Last year, the truck was postured as though it had just crashed off the roof of the house.
The truck’s second life as a Halloween prop, he said, comes from a little bit of sentiment.
“Once you name them, you’ve gotta keep them,” he smiled.
A 1999 Chevrolet S-10 pickup truck known as ‘Yard Truck,’ spins on a spit in the front yard of engineer Bill Knowles in Dalton, surrounded by Knowles’ aptly-named ‘skeleton crew.’
This year, however, Knowles’ vision was a bit more revolutionary. The display is mostly a balancing act: 2,400 pounds of rusted steel that had to be distributed just so in order to power the rig with his uncle John Castegnaro’s snowblower in his memory.
“That snowblower was his pride and joy,” Knowles said. “I said, ‘I’m gonna let Uncle John help with this one.’”
Knowles, an automation engineer and product developer for Cavallero Plastics, was up to the task. He welded the framework for it out of scrap steel donated by the company.
Striking the perfect balance took some trial and error, as Knowles removed the truck’s transmission and placed it in the bed of the truck, along with a spare tire and a snowblower wheel. He also strapped a patio brick to the rear suspension, the weights and counterweights found harmony above the roasting “fire.”
Now, you can spin the truck 360 degrees with just two fingers, he said, while demonstrating.
Knowles first assembled the display in his backyard to ensure that he could test it before it was ready for prime time. He made adjustments to the truck itself, bolting the cab and bed of the truck together using pieces of wood to prevent the truck from sagging in the middle.
“Now it’s actually sturdier than a regular S-10,” he said.
Outside the nuts and bolts, though, Knowles was sure to go the extra mile for character.
“I put a little twist into everything I do,” Knowles said. “Everything’s named, and that gives it personality.”
A skeleton named “Frack” sits at the wheel of Bill Knowles’ Halloween “Yard Truck” display in the front yard of his Dalton home.
The skeletons, seven in all, have their own names much like Santa’s reindeer: Crankenstein, Frick, Frack, Clinger, Bone-ita, Hacked Up Hank and Smilin’ Sam. Their names correspond to what they do in the display: for instance, Clinger is clinging to the bottom of the truck. Crankenstein is cranking the rig. Hacked Up Hank is Knowles’ “sacrifice” skeleton, which has been hacked up and stuffed in the snow blower.
What about Frick and Frack? They’re the ones in the truck; Frick in the passenger seat, Frack behind the wheel.
“He’s asking him, ‘What the frick are you doin’?’ ” Knowles laughs. “What’s going on here?”
Knowles also noted that the display was, in fact, a cookout for the skeleton. One of them, Smilin’ Sam, was waiting to get his piece of it when it was fully cooked.
For the time being, Knowles is only spinning the rig for about 20 to 30 minutes at a time to ensure it stays intact, but he plans to run it longer on Halloween. Knowles said he already has a plan for next year’s display, noting that fans of his work should “stay tuned.”
For now, the “fire” pit will stay roaring and the truck will stay rolling. Knowles is looking forward to the hustle and bustle of Halloween night; a night that’s sure to mean a lot of work for him. He doesn’t seem to mind, though.
“You know what I’ll get in return?” Knowles said. “Smiles.”
Matt Martinez can be reached at [email protected].
News Reporter
Matt Martinez is a news reporter at The Berkshire Eagle. He worked at Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service, graduated Marquette University. He is a former Report for America corps member.
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